South-East Asian countries are backing away from the death penalty

Oct 18, 2018

MALAYSIA IS HARDLY known for the leniency of its punishments. Sharia (Islamic law) applies in some states and canings offer a violent public spectacle. Even so, the country’s new government no longer wishes to deal in death. On October 10th Liew Vui Keong, a minister, announced that the death penalty would be abolished, although the necessary legislation has yet to be introduced in parliament. That would leave only four countries in South-East Asia still conducting executions: Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. And even among these hold-outs, there are signs of change.

Vietnam, with a population of more than 95m, is by far the most prolific executioner in the region (see chart). It does not normally disclose the number of prisoners put to death. But last year it reported that 429 had been executed in a 151-week period between 2013 and 2016, a much higher number than had been estimated previously. Singapore, the next on the list, carried out...


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